Ambrose ends pressure filled week with 8th

Marcos Ambrose drives the #9 Stanley Ford during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on June 22, 2012 in Sonoma, California. (June 21, 2012 - Source: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

Marcos Ambrose drives the #9 Stanley Ford during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on June 22, 2012 in Sonoma, California. (June 21, 2012 - Source: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

A week after setting a track record on the repaved Michigan International Speedway, Marcos Ambrose was at it again in Sonoma. This time setting the track record at the slowest track on the circuit.

Marcos Ambrose hoped to record his second career win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, instead he finished 8th.

Despite starting on the pole it took only a handful of laps for Ambrose to surrender the lead to Jeff Gordon who started along side him.

The rest of the race was a slow decline though the field before eventually climbing back into the top-10 and recording an 8th place finish.

It was not only the expectations of a victory from reporters and fans that pressured the former Aussie Supercars champion this weekend. Aside from racing for a win on a 1.99 mile track with left and right turns, Ambrose was also racing for a $1 million donation to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals from his primary sponsor Stanley. The hospital benefits sick and injured children.

The road course in southern California has been a frustrating place for the Australian born driver. The expectations are always high on Ambrose at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Entering Sunday’s race the driver of the #9 Ford had finished 3rd, 6th, and 5th over the last three years.

His 6th place finish in 2010 was a result of shutting down his engine under caution and losing speed. The reasons for that decision are still unclear but resulted in Ambrose going from the lead to sixth. Jimmie Johnson took the lead and would win the race.

This is Ambroses’ second season driving the #9 car for Richard Petty Motorsports. He previously drove at the Sprint Cup level for JTG Daugherty in the #47 car.

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